Haile Selassie I

HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY, EMPEROR HAILE SELASSIE I
OF ETHIOPIA
King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Elect of God
Defender of the Faith, Light of this World
The Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah
1892 – 1975

PSALM 87:

His Foundation is in the Holy Mountains
{A Psalm or Song for the sons of Korah.}

1. His foundation is in the holy mountains.

2. The LORD loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

3. Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God. Selah.

4. I will make mention of Rahab and Babylon to them that know me: behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Ethiopia; this man was born there.

5. And of Zion it shall be said, This and that man was born in her: and the highest himself shall establish her.

6. The LORD shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there. Selah.

7.  As well the singers as the players on instruments shall be there: all my springs are in thee.

Ras Tafari, His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was the 225th Emperor in an unbroken line of Ethiopian monarchs of the Solomonic Dynasty beginning with Emperor Menelik I, the son of the King Solomon and Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, who had visited Solomon in Israel.

Imagine being able to trace your ancestry back to Abraham, Jacob, King David and King Solomon, some of the most important, God-fearing and God-loved leaders documented in the Holy Bible.

Imagine that you are sitting on the “Everlasting” Throne of David as defined in the Bible and your bloodline and your royal heritage encompasses the faiths of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Rastafarianism. 

His Imperial Majesty was so loved and appreciated by members of his race and others across the globe that 72 nations arrived in Addis Ababa to pay homage at his Coronation on November 2, 1930. 

The New York Times honored him as MAN OF THE YEAR in 1936.
He received not one, but two ticker-tape parades down New York City’s Canon of Heroes – the only ever foreign leader to receive such an honor. 

His Imperial Majesty has not only earned but has truly lived his numerous titles, including King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Elect of God, Defender of the Faith, Light of this World, the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah plus a lot more, and was recognized as the architect and builder of the nation.

His faith in God, his commitment to the Church, his reliance on Prayer and dedication to the Words of the Bible embodied his daily life and his relationships with family, his subjects and the outside world.  He called upon God in everything he did and encouraged everyone to do the same. As a leader, he was truly an example to his countrymen who shared his love for God and the Church – Ethiopia being known as the most religious country in the world.

Ethiopians knew that the Emperor attended church every Sunday, and it was known that his last stop before leaving the country on a visit abroad, and his first stop upon his return was always to pray at a church, usually at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

It was at His Imperial Majesty’s request that His Holiness Baba Yacob II and the Saint/Pope H.H. Baba Kyrillos VI of Egypt granted autonomy to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church; and returned two Chapels in the Holy Sepulchre/Dier al-Sultan in Jerusalem and the conference of the Oriental/Non-Chalcedonian Churches to Ethiopia.

His Imperial Majesty caused the volumes of the Ethiopian Bible which was written in the Ancient language of Geez to be translated to Amharic for the benefit of all Ethiopians.  And he sent Ethiopian Orthodox Priests to different nations across the globe to introduce others to the Orthodox Christian life.

An entirely new religion promulgated by Leonard Percival Howell (the Gong) and others in Jamaica had earlier on adopted RAS TAFARI’s given name and edified HIM as God Himself.  He was referred to by adherents of the Rastafari religion as the Returned Messiah, the Living God, Christ in his Kingly Character, the Redeemer, God personified in human form, God Almighty Himself, Christ returned, the Restoring Messiah, among other divine titles. 

Born on July 23, 1892 in Ejersa Goro, Harar Province, Ras Tafari was the son of Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael, a cousin, confidant, adviser and emissary of Emperor Menilek II. Ras Makonnen was also the governor of Harar province.  Records indicate that Ras Makonnen represented the Empire in financial transactions taking place in the United States.

Ras Tafari’s mother, Yeshimebet Ali Gamcho, died when he was just a child. He was the only survivor of her 10 children.  

Born Tafari Makonnen, at his christening he was given the name Haile Selassie, an ancient Geez name meaning the Power of the Trinity.  He elected to use that name when he was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia on November 2, 1930.

Haile Selassie grew up with his father in Harar.  At about age 12 he was made a Dejazmach by his father and Emperor Menelik and was appointed governor of a nearby town. A year later his father became ill and passed away. His half brother became the new governor of Harar and he moved to Addis Ababa to live with Emperor Menelik.

While in Addis Ababa, he was home-schooled at the palace where he met Emperor Menelik’s grandson and heir-apparent, Lij Iyasu. Emperor Menelik assigned the young Tafari Titular Governorship of some smaller regions in the Empire. The Emperor admired his work ethic, intellect and great personal dignity and appointed Ras Tafari governor of the extensive province of Sidamo in 1907.

In 1910, at the age of 17, Emperor Menelik appointed him governor of Harar, the position that had been held by his father and half brother.  He was welcomed by the citizens as one of their own and began instituting reforms that pleased them.

In 1911, he married Lij Iyasu’s niece Menen Asfaw whom he had also met in the Court of Emperor Menelik. The marriage was encouraged by Lij Iyasu himself when he observed how well they both got along. They were to have six children together.

Ras Tafari, His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia was the 225th Emperor in an unbroken line of Ethiopian monarchs of the Solomonic Dynasty beginning with Emperor Menelik I, the son of the King Solomon and Makeda, the Queen of Sheba, who had visited Solomon in Israel.

Imagine being able to trace your ancestry back to Abraham, Jacob, King David and King Solomon, some of the most important, God-fearing and God-loved leaders documented in the Holy Bible.

Imagine that you are sitting on the “Everlasting” Throne of David as defined in the Bible and your bloodline and your royal heritage encompasses the faiths of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Rastafarianism. 

His Imperial Majesty was so loved and appreciated by members of his race and others across the globe that 72 nations arrived in Addis Ababa to pay homage at his Coronation on November 2, 1930. 

The New York Times honored him as MAN OF THE YEAR in 1936.

He received not one, but two ticker-tape parades down New York City’s Canon of Heroes – the only ever foreign leader to receive such an honor. 

His Imperial Majesty has not only earned but has truly lived his numerous titles, including King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Elect of God, Defender of the Faith, Light of this World, the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah plus a lot more, and was recognized as the architect and builder of the nation.

His faith in God, his commitment to the Church, his reliance on Prayer and dedication to the Words of the Bible embodied his daily life and his relationships with family, his subjects and the outside world.  He called upon God in everything he did and encouraged everyone to do the same. As a leader, he was truly an example to his countrymen who shared his love for God and the Church – Ethiopia being known as the most religious country in the world.

Ethiopians knew that the Emperor attended church every Sunday, and it was known that his last stop before leaving the country on a visit abroad, and his first stop upon his return was always to pray at a church, usually at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

It was at His Imperial Majesty’s request that His Holiness Baba Yacob II and the Saint/Pope H.H. Baba Kyrillos VI of Egypt granted autonomy to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church; and returned two Chapels in the Holy Sepulchre/Dier al-Sultan in Jerusalem and the conference of the Oriental/Non-Chalcedonian Churches to Ethiopia.

His Imperial Majesty caused the volumes of the Ethiopian Bible which was written in the Ancient language of Geez to be translated to Amharic for the benefit of all Ethiopians.  And he sent Ethiopian Orthodox Priests to different nations across the globe to introduce others to the Orthodox Christian life.

An entirely new religion promulgated by Leonard Percival Howell (the Gong) and others in Jamaica had earlier on adopted RAS TAFARI’s given name and edified HIM as God Himself.  He was referred to by adherents of the Rastafari religion as the Returned Messiah, the Living God, Christ in his Kingly Character, the Redeemer, God personified in human form, God Almighty Himself, Christ returned, the Restoring Messiah, among other divine titles. 

Born on July 23, 1892 in Ejersa Goro, Harar Province, Ras Tafari was the son of Ras Makonnen Wolde Mikael, a cousin, confidant, adviser and emissary of Emperor Menilek II. Ras Makonnen was also the governor of Harar province.  Records indicate that Ras Makonnen represented the Empire in financial transactions taking place in the United States.

Ras Tafari’s mother, Yeshimebet Ali Gamcho, died when he was just a child. He was the only survivor of her 10 children.  

Born Tafari Makonnen, at his christening he was given the name Haile Selassie, an ancient Geez name meaning the Power of the Trinity.  He elected to use that name when he was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia on November 2, 1930.

Haile Selassie grew up with his father in Harar.  At about age 12 he was made a Dejazmach by his father and Emperor Menelik and was appointed governor of a nearby town. A year later his father became ill and passed away. His half brother became the new governor of Harar and he moved to Addis Ababa to live with Emperor Menelik.

While in Addis Ababa, he was home-schooled at the palace where he met Emperor Menelik’s grandson and heir-apparent, Lij Iyasu. Emperor Menelik assigned the young Tafari Titular Governorship of some smaller regions in the Empire. The Emperor admired his work ethic, intellect and great personal dignity and appointed Ras Tafari governor of the extensive province of Sidamo in 1907.

In 1910, at the age of 17, Emperor Menelik appointed him governor of Harar, the position that had been held by his father and half brother.  He was welcomed by the citizens as one of their own and began instituting reforms that pleased them.

In 1911, he married Lij Iyasu’s niece Menen Asfaw whom he had also met in the Court of Emperor Menelik. The marriage was encouraged by Lij Iyasu himself when he observed how well they both got along. They were to have six children together.

  • Princess Tenagnework,
  • Crown Prince Asfaw Wossen,
  • Princess Tsehai,
  • Princess Zenebework,
  • Prince Makonnen, and
  • Prince Sahle Selassie .

Empress Menen had been married twice previously and was at the time bethrothed (or possibly married) for a third time to a much older man. That engagement was amicably set aside. She had two children each with her first two husbands. Ras Tafari also had a daughter from an earlier union – Princess Romanework. 

Emperor Menilek who had been ill, passed away in 1913.  Lij Iyasu succeeded him to the throne. However, he was never crowned Emperor.  

Lij Iyasu’s conversion to Islam and his questionable lifestyle alienated the Christian church and gave impetus to Ras Tafari, other noblemen and high church officials to depose him in 1916.  It is reported that he was also suffering from madness caused by syphilis.

Backed by his father, Lij Iyasu’s supporters tried to win back the throne by armed insurrection, but were not successful. 

Empress Zawditu, Emperor Menilek’s daughter inherited the throne, and Ras Tafari was appointed Regent and Crown Prince and designated heir to the throne in 1917

As Regent of the Realm – Ras Tafari concentrated at first on foreign affairs. In 1923 he was successful in the admission of Ethiopia to the League of Nations.  During the fourteen years of his regency he prepared the ground work for great reforms like the abolition of the legal status of slavery and brought education to the forefront which, after 1930, he personally oversaw.

A year later he visited several European capitals and was thus the first Ethiopian ruler to go abroad and so consolidated Ethiopia’s relations with the outside world.

Ras Tafari gained much success in foreign affairs, including admission of Ethiopia to the League of Nations in 1923.  In 1926 he took control of the army, giving himself enough power to assume the title of negus (king).

Between Lij Iyasu, Zewditu, their families, friends and armies, Ras Tafari’s life was a continuous reality of intrigues, mystery, plotting, planning and ousting and even death. He at all times appeared to be the main target, however, he always came out the winner.

When Empress Zawditu died in April 1930, he took complete control of the government and was crowned Emperor in a lavish coronation ceremony attended by heads of 72 world governments or their representatives on November 2nd of that year.

His Imperial Majesty broke protocol and had his wife, Woizero Menen Asfaw, crowned Empress on the same day he was crowned.  Normally the Empress would have been crowned three days after the Emperor.
In 1931 the Emperor wrote Ethiopia’s first Constitution confirming his interest in modernization, but he desired that Ethiopia retain its cultural traditions.

Throughout much of this time Emperor Haile Selassie I also met with opposition from the land-owning and slave-owning gentry as he tried to create a more democratic Ethiopia.  In order for Ethiopia to be accepted in the High echelons of Western society and gain the trust of the Western countries as a member of the League of Nations, he had to press his very reluctant peers to disband slavery in particular.  This was not an easy task as they naturally wanted to hold on to this age-old privilege.

Emperor Haile Selassie’s efforts at modernization were set back when Italy invaded the country in 1935 with superior weaponry, airplanes, and poison gas, ignoring the fact that chemical weapons were forbidden by international treaty.

The Italians had never forgotten the defeat at Adowa dealt to them by the Ethiopians under Emperor Menelik II and Empress Taitu. Mussolini and his General, Graziano, supported by the Italian populace and the Roman Catholic Church, were bent on getting revenge for the disgrace brought upon them by Ethiopia. The Pope called upon God for  conquer Ethiopia, personally blessing the bombs that were prepared to be loaded on to the war planes headed to Ethiopia.

Ethiopians put up stern resistance and held back the Italians for longer than expected. Nevertheless, despite sterling resistance the Emperor was deposed and eventually forced to leave the country, leaving for French Somaliland on 2 May 1936.

The ensuing Fascist occupation marked the first time in Ethiopian history that the country had lost it’s national independence.

In 1936 Haile Selassie went into exile.  He appealed to the League of Nations In Geneva, for help.  The organization ignored his pleas and a large number of the assembled representatives actually booed him or tried to drown out his voice with shouts.  Following is an extract from his presentation to the League:

“Apart from the Kingdom of the Lord there is not on this earth any nation that is superior to any other. Should it happen that a strong Government finds it may with impunity destroy a weak people, then the hour strikes for that weak people to appeal to the League of Nations to give its judgment in all freedom. God and history will remember your judgment.”

His speech at the League of Nations made the Emperor an appreciated icon for anti-fascist supporters around the world. He also warned that now Ethiopia suffered from fascist expansion, but soon others would too.  That proved to be prophetic.

He went on to live in exile in Bath, England, residing at Fairfield House.

Ethiopians/Africans in the Diaspora who adored His Imperial Majesty as their Black God and King, were incensed by the fascist invasion of Ethiopia/Abyssinia by Italy.  Not having too long been freed from being forcibly enslaved themselves, they saw this as an affront and as a threat to the future freedom of the Black Race.

They rallied behind their Black King of whom Marcus Garvey, a Jamaican national who grew to prominence as the most successful Pan African organizer in history, had prophesized:

“Look to Africa when a black king shall be crowned for the day of deliverance is at hand!” 

Rastafarians saw Marcus Garvey as the John the Baptist to their Black Christ – the newly crowned Emperor of Ethiopia.

His Imperial Majesty was so revered by the Black Diaspora, it is said that every Black household across the Americas had a framed picture of His Majesty hanging on their walls.  In response to the invasion by Italy, many Black men volunteered to travel to Ethiopia to help defeat the enemy and men and women lined up for blocks to donate monies (some from their meager post-slavery resources). 

However, many Africans in the Diaspora were very well off at the time as the absence of integration into the rest of the society – especially in the USA – allowed Black businesses and enterprises to flourish.  Harlem was a thriving Black mecca, and so was “Black Wall Street” located in the suburbs of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

However embezzlers and racketeers took advantage of the sympathy of the African Diaspora for Ethiopia by lining their pockets with funds they collected for Ethiopia’s defense.  Many governments blocked their citizens from going off to Ethiopia – possibly at the behest of their colonial masters.

To remedy the situation, and coordinate the efforts of the many pro-Ethiopian organizations in Harlem, the Menelik Club was formed and in the summer of 1936 they sent a group of prominent citizens of Harlem to seek an audience with the Emperor who was in Bath, England at the time. 

The mission consisted of Rev. William Lloyd Imes, Pastor of the St. James Presbyterian Church, Dr. Philip M. Savoury, Chairman of the Victory Insurance Company and co-owner of the Amsterdam News, and Cyril M. Philip, Secretary of United Aid for Ethiopia.

The delegation informed the Emperor of the large sums of monies being raised in the United States for Ethiopia and asked for his input and support in streamlining the aid drive.

In response, His Imperial Majesty went even further beyond their request for endorsement.  He empowered his cousin, also his personal physician and emissary, Dr. Melaku Emmanuel Bayen to collaborate with the citizens of Harlem and incorporate The Ethiopian World Federation in New York.  He ecclesiastically ordained the organization with a Constitution & By-laws as the Protectorate Government abroad of Ethiopia and Ethiopians internationally – “We, the Black Peoples of the World”.

At a time when it appeared that Ethiopia would have been conquered and her citizens would become subjects of fascist Italy, His Imperial Majesty was putting in place a Plan B for the protection, not only of Ethiopia, but for the entire African Race.

Dr. Bayen returned to the USA where he had received his Medical training at Howard University, and working with the citizens of Harlem, incorporated and established the EWF, Inc. on August 25, 1937 (Constitution Day – defined as a holiday in the Constitution).

The Preamble and the first Sections of the Constitution including the Aims and Objects read as follows:

THE CONSTITUTION & BYLAWS OF
THE ETHIOPIAN WORLD FEDERATION,
INCORPORATED

Preamble
 “We the Black Peoples of the World, in Order to effect
Unity, Solidarity, Liberty, Freedom and Self­-determination,
to Secure Justice and Maintain the Integrity of Ethiopia,
which is our Divine Heritage, do hereby
Establish and Ordain this Constitution for
The Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated.”
The Constitution

ARTICLE I   –   NAME, AIMS AND OBJECTS

Section 1. The name of this organization shall be the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated.

Section 2. The aims and objects of the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated, shall be:

(a)   To promote love and good-will among Ethiopians at home and abroad and thereby to maintain the integrity and sovereignty of Ethiopia, to disseminate the ancient Ethiopian culture among its members, to correct abuses, relieve oppression and carve for ourselves and our posterity, a destiny comparable with our idea of perfect manhood and God’s purpose in creating us; that we may not only save ourselves from annihilation, but carve for ourselves a place in the Sun: in this endeavor, we determine to seek peace and pursue it, for it is the will of God for man.

(b)  To promote and pursue happiness; for it is the goal of human life and endeavor.

(c)  To usher in the teaching and practice of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man.

(d)  To promote and stimulate interest among its members in world affairs, and to cultivate a spirit of international goodwill and comity.

(e)  To promote friendly interest among its members, to develop a fraternal spirit among them and to inculcate in its members the desire to render voluntary aid and assistance to one another at all times.

(f)  To render voluntary aid and protection to its members, without fee or charge for same when in need. And, if necessary, to provide and care for refugees and disabled victims of the Italio-Ethiopian war.          

(g)  To give concrete material and voluntary aid without fee or charge for the same, to all such refugees and disabled victims and to raise funds by voluntary subscription for the purposes aforementioned. There shall be no charge, fee, beneficiary tax or other assessment upon the members of the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated, except for dues, provided for in the Constitution and By-Laws of the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated.

(h)  To encourage its members to develop interest and pride in Democratic institutions and to promote Democratic principles and ideals. May God help us to accomplish these aims and ideals.
Section 3. Scope: The Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated, shall be International in scope.
Section 4. Headquarters: The Headquarters of the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated, shall be in the City of New York, State of New York, United States of America.

Section 5. Colors. The official Colors of the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated, shall be the same as the National Colors of Ethiopia Green, Gold and Red.

Section 6.  Eligibility to Office. Male and female shall be equally eligible to all offices.

Section 7.   Non-Partisan Character. The Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated, shall be non-partisan and non-political in character, but in cases where partisan, political, or other issues tend to affect the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated, adversely in the carrying out of its aims and objects, it shall be free to combat such issues with the best legal means at its disposal.

Section 8. No individual who is a member of any other organization, political party, religious group or sect, which requires that individual to pledge unswerving allegiance to its tenets, thus depriving him of freedom of thought and action which may be necessary in carrying out the aims and objects of the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated, shall be elected or appointed to office, or shall allow himself to be elected to any office. Any election or appointment to office in violation of this Section shall be null and void.

ARTICLE II –  MEMBERSHIP

Section 1.  The membership shall comprise the BLACK PEOPLES of the world.

From that point on, The Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated assumed official control of all fund-raising activities in the United States, Cuba, Central America and the West Indies.

By 1940 there were twenty-two (22) Locals (subsidiary branches) across the Diaspora providing aid to thousands of Ethiopian refugees living in Egypt, French Somaliland, Kenya and the Sudan, and also sending fighting men to help repel the Italians.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Great Britain found itself fighting Italy on the African front, something it had refrained from doing when Italy had invaded Ethiopia in 1935.
Haile Selassie’s words were coming back to haunt Europe.  In his Appeal to The League of Nations on June 7, 1936 seeking their support to repel the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, he had given this warning:  

“It is us today, it will be you tomorrow.”

In early 1941 British forces, aided by the heroic Ethiopian resistance (the bushmen and soldiers who had not given up and had continued to wage guerilla warfare against the Italians), with the help of South African colonial troops liberated the country, enabling the Emperor to return triumphantly into Addis Ababa in May.
His Imperial Majesty asked of his fellow Ethiopians:

“Today is the day on which we defeated our enemy. Therefore, when we say let us rejoice with our hearts, let not our rejoicing be in any other way but in the spirit of Christ. Do not return evil for evil. Do not indulge in the atrocities which the enemy has been practicing in his usual way, even to the last.”

In gratitude for the support of the African Diaspora for the Ethiopia against the Italian invasion, in 1948 the Emperor and the Ethiopian government granted land in Shashemane, Ethiopia under the ownership and administration of the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated, for the sons and daughters of kidnapped Africans enslaved in the Diaspora who desired to return to the motherland. 

Other African governments also provided land grants for the Repatriation of Africa’s stolen children in response to the Jamaican “Back to Africa” delegation in 1961.  The delegation visited Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

the 40’s the Emperor rebuilt the administration, improved the army, passed legislation to regulate the government, church, and financial system, and solidified his control of the provinces by crushing revolts in Gojjam and Tigre.

Known for his total dedication to his spiritual life and the Church, His Imperial Majesty applied to the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria, Egypt to establish the independence of Ethiopian bishops in 1942 and again in 1945.  Every Ethiopian monarch from the time of St. Lallibela had pleaded with Egypt to allow Ethiopian bishops to preside over the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  When His Imperial Majesty’s appeals were denied he threatened to sever relations with Alexandria.

Egypt finally capitulated and the Emperor was able to achieve self-government for the church under its own Patriarch and regained ownership and control of two Chapels in the Holy Sepulchre/Dier al-Sultan in Jerusalem and the conference of the Oriental/Non-Chalcedonian Churches.

His Majesty also sent Priests of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church out into the World to teach and preach the Gospel of Christ from the Ethiopian Orthodox perspective to the Black Family. It was the first for many who had yearned for a more familiar connection to an artificially whitened Bible and gospel, to see themselves reflected in the leadership of the Church and to the characters in the Bible as well.

One is amazed by the many trips that His Imperial Majesty made abroad, throughout Europe and the Americas as he sought to bring his country into alignment with the world’s most advanced nations.  He needed to observe first hand the developments being achieved and also develop relationships through diplomatic contact with these countries and peoples that might be called on to help him raise up Ethiopia to those standards in administration, politics, infrastructure and education.

But Her Imperial Majesty Empress Woizero Menen Asfaw also made an unbelievable number of trips back and forth to many provinces of Ethiopia and to Jordan and Jerusalem, mostly by ground transportation and abroad by sea where possible.  These were long trips and very taxing, especially for someone who was a mother, bringing up her children and very involved in building and overseeing the Schools, Churches and Hospitals in her domain. 

She was very involved in the day to day lives of the people who inhabited these institutions.  She was a very wealthy woman, and used her riches to enrich others.

In 1951 Their Imperial Majesties built the new St. Mary of Zion Cathedral to house the Ark of the Covenant in Axum, Ethiopia.

In 2011 it was reported in the British press that the Temple housing the Ark of the Covenant needed repairs and renovation and the Diocese was about to build a new Temple. In a mystic series of events, a young Rastafarian man originally from the Caribbean island of Montserrat, Jevon White – Ras Sadiki-I – was called by God to travel to Ethiopia and meet the Guardian Monk. 

Ras Sadiki-I was inspired to offer to paint the Temple, and that led to him being allowed to meet the Guardian Monk – an extremely rare occurrence.  The Guardian Monk accepted him like the son he never had, and soon baptized Ras Sadiki-I himself (a first in history for a Guardian Monk). He was then handed the specifications and the assignment to raise funds in the Diaspora to build a New Temple for the Ark of the Covenant. He was told “We have been waiting for someone to come.”

Ras Sadiki-I who was living in the USA, reached out to the Ethiopian World Federation, Inc. Headquarters in New York for support, and the organization assisted him to publicize the effort to raise funds. Using much of his own funds as well, he completed the building and was honored at the opening ceremonies in February 2014.

​Videos of Ras Sadiki-I, Builder of the New Temple of the Ark of the Covenant 

 Ras Sadiki-I Spiritual Journey & Baptism by the Guardian Monk of the Ark of the Covenant  

Opening Ceremony for the New Temple for Ark of the Covenant in Axum, Ethiopia  

After 51 years of marriage, Empress Menen who had been ill, passed away on February 15, 1962.  At one of the services celebrating her life, His Imperial Majesty eulogized her.  Here is an extract from that statement:

All of you knew her well but she was more intimately known by I. She was devoutly religious and did not lose her faith even in the time of hardship. During the memorable days of Our companionship We never had differences that needed the intervention of others.

As Sarah was to Abraham, so was she obedient to I. Our wishes were mutual until we were separated by the Almighty. Her assistance for the good of the young, the old and the needy requires no testimony for they are greater than thoughts and words.

We have been extremely pleased to live long enough in the perfect union that enabled us to see our offspring, our grandchildren and our great grandchildren. We are thankful to the Almighty for having vouchsafed to us that long uninterrupted union which is not very common in the world today: There could be no more profound prayer for I to utter.

In the 1950s Emperor Haile Selassie I worked for the absorption of the important Red Sea province of Eritrea (accomplished in 1962), founded the University College of Addis Ababa, and welcomed home many Ethiopian college graduates whom he had helped to go abroad for higher studies. His Silver Jubilee of 1955 served as the occasion to present a revised constitution for Ethiopia, followed in 1957 by the country’s first general election.

His Majesty’s efforts to implement taxation to finance the modernization of the country met with stubborn resistance from the elite landowners and the Church. The Emperor walked back on many of his proposed changes in order to calm their fear of change and to maintain good relations.

Despite his best efforts to balance the need for growth and modernization and at the same time honor the long standing traditions of such an ancient society, dissident elements attempted a coup in December 1960. 

This coup was engaged by members of His Imperial Majesty’s Imperial Guard while he was on one of his many trips abroad – this time to Brazil, South America.

One of the Emperor’s sons, Prince Asfaw Wossen was implicated in the coup, and was prematurely declared Emperor by the coup.  It has been conjectured that he might have been forced to participate. The coup did not elicit much public support so it was easily crushed.

In 1961 His Imperial Majesty received the “Back to Africa” delegation from Jamaica.  The delegation also visited Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria and included three (3) representatives of the Rastafarian community, one representatives each of the UNIA, the Afro-Caribbean League, the Afro West Indian Welfare League, the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated and two (2) Advisers – one a Journalist and the other a Doctor. It was at this time that the Emperor met Mortimo Planno, a Rastafarian who was to become a member of the Ethiopian World Federation, Incorporated and whom the Emperor called for to speak to the crowd to clear the way for him to leave the plane when he landed in Jamaica April 22, 1966. 

In the 1960s the Emperor was clearly recognized as a major force in the Pan-African movement, demonstrating his commitment to the advancement of Africans at home and abroad.  In 1963, he initiated the Organization of African Unity – the OAU (today’s African Union – the AU) with headquarters in Addis Ababa and also served as its first head.

After the Second World War, Haile Selassie became a strong advocate of the principle of collective security and a strong supporter of the United Nations.

Speaking to the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 4, 1963, he reminded the assembly:

“Twenty-seven years ago, as Emperor of Ethiopia, I mounted the rostrum in Geneva, Switzerland, to address the League of Nations and to appeal for relief from the destruction which had been unleashed against my defenseless nation, by the Fascist invader. I spoke then both to and for the conscience of the world. My words went unheeded, but history testifies to the accuracy of the warning that I gave in 1936.

Today, I stand before the world organization which has succeeded to the mantle discarded by its discredited predecessor [the League of Nations]. In this body is enshrined the principle of collective security which I unsuccessfully invoked at Geneva. Here, in this Assembly, reposes the best – perhaps the last – hope for the peaceful survival of mankind.”

(Read His Imperial Majesty full speech here, part of which was to become Bob Marley’s song called WAR.)

Emperor Haile Selassie was the only statesmen to have addressed both the League of Nations and United Nations.  As a Ruler, he sought to remain on friendly terms with the West, whilst also supporting African independence.

In 1965 the Emperor hosted the Venerable Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches in Addis Ababa.  On January 15, 1965 at that historic gathering, the title of “Defender of the Faith” was officially bestowed upon the Emperor by the Conference. The Oriental Orthodox Conference family is comprised of the Ethiopian, Coptic, Armenian, Syrian, Indian and Eritrean Churches.

In 1966 His Imperial Majesty visited Jamaica, one of the stops on a tour of the Caribbean that included Haiti and Trinidad & Tobago. His arrival in Jamaica was preceded that morning by heavy rainfall after a lengthy period of drought in the country.  The rain stopped and His Majesty’s plane appeared out of the cloud and brought the sunshine with it as it approached the Palisadoes Airport (now renamed the Norman Manley Airport). This almost ethereal event was much talked about, not only in Jamaica by the over 100,000 people who came to the airport to welcome HIM, but the story also made its way back to Ethiopia.

On seeing that his pathway from the plane was blocked by the overly enthusiastic crowd that had broken down the fences and barriers and ignored the security forces to get close to his airplane, His Imperial Majesty asked his hosts to call for Ras Mortimo Planno to come forward to clear the path for him.  He had met Ras Mortimo in 1961 as a member of the Back to Africa delegation from Jamaica.

Incidents such as these in His Majesty’s life helped to corroborate the Rastafarian religious beliefs of His Imperial Majesty being God Almighty himself.  And there are many individuals, including Ethiopians, and individuals across the globe who have spoken of miracles they saw or experienced that they ascribe to His Imperial Majesty.

His three days in Jamaica were unforgettable, and his relationship with the Rastafari community was strengthened as he asked that the government invite Rastafarian leaders as special guests to all events planned for him.

The Rastafarians who attended were handed gifts of gold medals by His Imperial Majesty. It was probably the first time in Jamaica’s history that Rastafarians were invited to such auspicious occasions and venues.  It was a mystic and magical time for Jamaica and the Rastafarian community.

Jamaican dub poet and radio show host Mutaburaka speaks with Mortimo Planno in this more than 2-hour long interview –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_fh_IdhXoE.  At 1:30:00  Ras Mortimo spoke of being called for by His Majesty at the airport and also attending a Press Conference where he was asked how he knows the Emperor is God. He referred the journalists to the following bible verses: 1 king 2:12, Hebrew 9:27 and Revelations 5:5.   He asserts that when questioned, the Emperor never denied he was God; instead his response was

          “Who am I to deny their faith?”
Back at home the Emperor had slowly withdrawn from many day-to-day administrative concerns as he was now able to assign the responsibilities to others including the students who were returning home from their studies abroad. Throughout the 1970’s he was able to become more involved with foreign affairs.

A famine in Wello province in 1973 combined with an oil crisis resulting in rising prices that caused civil unrest, seriously undermined His Majesty’s rule. It was reported that the Emperor had covered up the seriousness of the famine. There was also unrest in Eritrea as the Eritreans were demanding their own autonomy.

Communism and Socialism were being propagandized across the globe as the solution for the masses who were experiencing the harder edge of uncontrolled capitalism, or in the case of Ethiopia, Serfdom, where absentee landlords severely taxed the landless and those whose lands had been taken from them by force.

Worldwide, the young and the unemployed, especially, were drawn to the idea of an egalitarian society promised by communism as opposed to the lavish lifestyle of the ruling elite.  His Imperial Majesty was overthrown by a communist coup on September 13, 1974.  Menghistu Haile Mariam, a soldier who rose to prominence in the military and in the uprising, took over leadership of the government.

After a year under house arrest, and after many members of his family and his government were killed, and those who could had fled Ethiopia in fear of their lives had done so, it was announced by the Derg on August 27, 1975 that the Emperor had died.

There was no funeral service and the exact location of his grave was not revealed.

There was much mystery surrounding the announcement and many questioned whether His Imperial Majesty had really died. Of course for the Rastafarian community, he was God in human flesh and therefore if he died, like Christ (to whom he was likened or was considered one and the same) he would have risen from the dead anyway.  The mystery, inconsistencies and unanswered questions provided fodder for the Rastafarian perspective that “Jah Lives”. 

A funeral service and burial arranged by the government 25 years after he had died resulted in even more doubts and questions.  https://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/1372352/Haile-Selassie-to-get-funeral-25-years-late.html. One question was based on the size of the casket – “Why was it that a man of Emperor Haile Selassie I height would be interred in a casket more fitting for someone 6 feet or taller. Was it because the bones were not his?”

A photograph purportedly of His Imperial Majesty as a dreadlocked Batawi Priest surfaced and was widely circulated on social media as proof that he was still alive.  As well, stories also appeared from individuals who reported that they had seen and spoken to the Emperor after his supposed demise.

The rising popularity of Reggae music which came out of the ghettos of Jamaica, spoke to the suffering of the masses, the inequalities between the haves and the have-nots, the burdens of poverty and Blackness, even in matters of the heart, but all tempered by hope and faith in Jah Rastafari’s Love, his righteousness, his promised redemption, restoration and repatriation to the Motherland (or Mount Zion) to escape the oppression of Babylon.  The conviction that all struggles, pain and heartache will be overcome through divine intervention of Jah Rastafari, spread Emperor Haile Selassie’s name and the concept of his divine nature across the globe.

Reggae stages and Sound Systems rocked as Performers, Emcees and DJ’s all took advantage of His Imperial Majesty’s popularity and rallied the crowds with the Word, Sound and Power of HIM name; giving thanks and praise to the Most High Jah, Rastafari; prayerfully blessing the stage and greeting the crowds in his name.
In Odes to Africa / Ethiopia as the home of the Black man and the Promised Land of the Bible, Reggae music took the world by storm, heralded by Bob Marley who led the music train abroad to Europe, the Americas, and Africa with even a one-stop in Japan. 

In spite of lyrics that reflected the Black experience, millions regardless of race, responded to and empathized with the plaintive wails of the ghetto ambassadors, moved by the mesmerizing rhythm and beat born out of the African spiritual experience that had been passed down for generations to the children of the enslaved by rote and by DNA.

For reference, here is an tiny list of some of those songs:

“Greetings I bring from Jah, to all Raggamuffin.”  Half Pint

Redemption Songs – Bob Marley and the Wailers

Hurry Up and Come – Cocoa Tea

Sweep Over My Soul  –  Luciano

Christ in His Kingly Character  – Garnet Silk

Solid as A Rock  – Sizzla Kalongi

Growing synergistically with the music, the culture of Rastafarians under the red, gold and green of the
Ethiopian flag, so spread its influence into world consciousness that a contestant on the popular American television game show, Jeopardy believed those were the colors of the Jamaican flag. She lost.

oooooooooooooOoooooooooooooo

UPDATES

In a presentation at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, the Emperor’s grandson, and head of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, Prince Ermias spoke of the Rastafarian religion and culture and its connection to Ethiopia and his grandfather, the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah:
https://youtu.be/syw-Z6aH5tc

In 2019, in recognition of His Imperial Majesty’s contributions to Africa in particular, his role as a champion of African freedom against colonial intervention and his role in the founding of the Organization of African Unity (the predecessor of the African Union), the African Union unveiled a statue of the Emperor on the grounds of the organization in Addis Ababa.

In the summer of 2019 it was reported that the heads of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Diocese in Harar were discussing the possibility of canonizing His Imperial Majesty as a Saint.

Also, in 2019 Archeologists reported finding the remains of an ancient Axumite City in Ethiopia that was even more advanced than Rome.

Growing synergistically with the music, the culture of Rastafarians under the red, gold and green of the Ethiopian flag, so spread its influence into world consciousness that a contestant on the popular American television game show, Jeopardy, believed those were the colors of the Jamaican flag.  She lost.

oooooooooooooOoooooooooooooo

UPDATES

In a presentation at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, the Emperor’s grandson, and head of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, Prince Ermias spoke of the Rastafarian religion and culture and its connection to Ethiopia and his grandfather, the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah:  https://youtu.be/syw-Z6aH5tc

In 2019, in recognition of His Imperial Majesty’s contributions to Africa in particular, his role as a champion of African freedom against colonial intervention and his role in the founding of the Organization of African Unity (the predecessor of the African Union), the African Union unveiled a statue of the Emperor on the grounds of the organization in Addis Ababa.

In the summer of 2019 it was reported that the heads of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Diocese in Harar were discussing the possibility of canonizing His Imperial Majesty as a Saint. 

Also, in 2019 Archeologists reported finding the remains of an ancient Axumite City in Ethiopia that was even more advanced than Rome. 

A 1700 year old Christian Basilica was also unearthed in the same region.

Ethiopian Orthodox Epiphany Added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List

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